Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meal Planning Made Simple

In my attempts to make life more simple, I recently decided that my household notebook was making life more complicated.  So, I decided to ditch it.  I really hardly used it anymore anyway... I have a calendar on my phone, my routines are memorized, I clean when it's needed, and all my common recipes are on my blog, typed somewhere, or memorized.  I just write my to do list on a piece of paper.  And, I have made changes to my meal planning to make it easier and less complicated.  I don't have time for complicated (most people don't!).

Here are some tips for easy meal planning:
  • Look at what you already have and base meals around that.
  • Keep a master list of your family's favorite meals (20-25 at least).  Update this every few months.
  • Come up with 5 meals for the week using your master list.  Have one night for leftovers.  Have one night to try a new meal.
  • Use meal ingredients more than once.  For example, if you have roasted chicken one night, the next night use the leftover chicken in a meal.  If you make a pot of beans one night for rice and beans, have a taco salad or chili the next night using those beans.  
  • Keep it simple.  Healthy doesn't mean extravagant.
  • Make your grocery list based on your meal plan.  Only buy what's on the list.
Here's our plan:
  • My master meal list is located on google documents.  This eliminates the need to have it written on paper (and need a place to put it).  Most of the meals listed here contain ingredients that I keep on hand regularly.
  • I write my weekly meal plan on my marker board in my kitchen.  This helps Robert too because he likes to see what's coming up (he cooks sometimes!).
  • I buy groceries every Wednesday, so my meal week starts on Wednesday (it's just easier that way for me).  I go to Newflower Farmer's Market on that day because it's their "double ad day."  I don't usually buy much each week because I do my "big shopping trip" once a month.  This is when I go to Costco.  I am now trying to limit my farm visits to every other month.  The once a month shopping trip is where I stock up on my common items (see my Whole Foods Pantry list).  These are items that I almost always have on hand.
  • I don't include breakfasts on here because I tend to stick with the same things mostly... and I just decide that morning.  I've tried to include breakfasts only to NEVER stick with the plan.

How do you plan meals for your family?  What are some ways you can simplify planning in your life?


The Man Crew said...

Courtney...when you've got 3 little ones...simple is the ONLY way to go! :) Good for you! Always enjoy reading your blog, hope you know that. As for my homemakers binder, I'm having a love/hate relationship with it rigt now. When I use it, I feel TIED to it and I get frustrated when things don't go according to the 'plan', but when I don't use it, I feel detached and unorganized, and nothing gets planned and almost nothing gets done. So, I'm not using mine right now either...just a slip of paper when I need it. But I'm feeling the need for more structure to my days again, so I"ll probably start using it again soon...LOL! The only thing that stay the same is change, right? ;) Enjoy your newfound freedom in the simple life! Hugs to you

Anonymous said...

I also write the weeks mealplan on a whiteboard right on the fridge...funny though the family asks me anyway almost every day what we're having! I don't stick to it strictly...I often swap days depending on what's going on...but having in black and white what the possibilities are really helps when I am tired and rushing to get SOMETHING on the table. Keep it coming Courtney...I'm enjoying reading your blogs!

Josh said...

Hi Courtney,

I'm Josh from Springpad. Our product is useful for people who like to cook and are looking for an easy way to stay organized. Springpad is a free application to save and use just about anything - notes and ideas, wine, books, restaurants, articles, etc. It's particularly useful for saving recipes from any website. With our web clipper, anytime you find a recipe you want to save, you can do so with 1 click so you have all your recipes in 1 place. You can then personalize the recipes with your own notes, photos or videos and then use our free weekly meal planner located in the apps section of our website to drop any of your saved recipes into the app. This generate a complete list of ingredients from your recipes. The recipes or ingredient list can be printed or pulled up on your phone as well. You can check it out at http://springpadit.com. Hope this helps!